213 collect data from benchmarking partner the

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2.1.3 Collect data from benchmarking partner The performance of the benchmarking partner is assessed in this step, with the focus on both measurement of outcome or product, and investigation of practices by which those outcomes are achieved. As discussed earlier, new insights are gained through an emphasis on process and practice. Direct site visits, where appropriate, allow for discussion and exchange of information, and the observation of processes. After contacting the benchmarking partner and arranging a time for the visit, the following guidelines may be of assistance: Preparing for the Site Visit Decide who is to attend. Although the usual size of a benchmarking team is three to eight members, budgetary constraints, particularly if the benchmark partner is some distance from your organisation, may require that a reduced team conduct the actual site visit. Obtain preliminary information from the partner to save time during the visit. Prepare an agenda to structure the visit, and provide it, with other relevant information, to the benchmarking partner. Conducting the Site Visit Site visits usually take from half to a full day. This may need to be extended however, depending on the scope of the benchmarking experience. Where possible benchmarking visits should coincide with conference or meeting attendance at interstate or overseas venues. The essential outcome of the visit is to collect sufficient data to identify the characteristics of best practice for each process. This goal should be kept in mind throughout the visit. Careful prior planning should also reduce the risk of `industrial tourism'. After the Site Visit Conduct a debriefing as soon as possible to ensure that documentation is complete. A written record of discussions needs to be circulated to all relevant parties. Consider sending a summary of observations to the partner to check accuracy. Arrange for any necessary follow up. 2.2 Analysis of Data Stage 2.2.1 Compare data Information obtained from the benchmarking partner is compared with that from the internal evaluation. Three key questions need to be considered here: Is the partner better? How much better are they? Why are they better? If a performance gap exists, the magnitude and causes of the gap need to be determined. The focal point of the analysis is to identify the specific practices which contribute to the other institution's superior
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Curtin University of Technology Document for Internal Use Only Page 15 of 24 performance. Identification of the gap and its magnitude are the easy parts of this process; the main difficulty lies in understanding which factors are responsible for the success of the partner organisation. Such an understanding is crucial, however, if best practices are to be incorporated into one's own institution. As a guideline, it may be useful to consider differences in the benchmarking partner in the following areas: Operating procedures; Leadership and management systems (for example, resource allocation, planning, and communication between management and other areas of the organisation);
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